A Russian plane collided with an unmanned American drone over the Black Sea, the United States said

A Russian jet shot down an unmanned US drone over the Black Sea, US officials said, in an incident they described as a “reckless” act by Vladimir Putin’s military.

The US military said two Russian Su-27 jets attempted to “intercept” a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over international waters on Tuesday morning and repeatedly flew close to the aircraft. Then one of the Russian planes hit the drone’s propeller, forcing the US military to crash.

“Prior to the collision, the Su-27s repeatedly spilled fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, unfriendly and unprofessional manner,” the US military said. “This incident shows a lack of competence, as well as being unsafe and unprofessional.”

The incident marked the first time US and Russian military aircraft have come into direct contact since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine last year, and risks further escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow, ahead of what both Russia and Ukraine considered a key window to secure an advantage. the battlefield.

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The US has been using Reaper drones to monitor the Black Sea since Russia invaded Ukraine. Drones can fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet and can operate for longer periods of time to gather intelligence.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident Tuesday morning.

According to Kirby, it is “not uncommon” for foreign actors to fly close to US aircraft over the Black Sea, but what is “remarkable” and “unique” in this case is how “unsafe”, “unprofessional” and ” the action is reckless. volt.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the US drone had crossed into airspace over the Black Sea, which is under Moscow’s jurisdiction, so its air force sent two jets from a nearby base to identify the vehicle.

They claimed that the drone lost control “as a result of a sharp maneuver” and fell into the sea without Russian intervention. “The Russian fighters did not shoot at the drone, did not make contact with it and returned to the base safely,” the ministry said.

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The incident comes just weeks after Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev and pledged “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s independence. Since the beginning of the year, the United States has announced more than $10 billion in death aid to Ukraine.

But the issue has become increasingly divisive politically in the United States, with Florida governor and presumptive presidential candidate Ron DeSantis saying this week that continued support for Ukraine does not serve the United States’ “vital national interest.”

Russian aircraft often shadow US drones operating in the area, but a US official said the dangerous maneuvers “are not normally seen in an operational environment”.

The Pentagon declined to provide the exact location of the crash in the Black Sea and did not say whether the drone was armed, but officials said it was conducting surveillance.

Kirby added that State Department officials are “speaking directly with their Russian counterparts and expressing our concerns” about the incident. Military officials are also likely to contact Russian counterparts.

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Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday: “This incident should serve as a wake-up call to isolationists in the United States that it is in our national interest to treat Putin as the threat he truly is. there is.”

Source: https://www.ft.com/content/c563ee18-7674-4f00-800e-28662cc4c60d